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Microbiology and Genome Experts Quell Deadly Bacteria Outbreak
Date:8/22/2012

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"Genome sequencing and analysis is our best hope for anticipating and outpacing the pathogenic evolution of infectious agents," Julie Segre, an NHGRI senior investigator involved in the outbreak, said in the news release. "Though our practice of genomics did not change the way patients were treated in this outbreak, it did change the way the hospital practiced infection control."

About 1.7 million hospital-associated infections, and 99,000 related deaths, occur each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multi-drug resistant K. pneumoniae is among the more dangerous infections because there are few effective treatments and the death rate can be as high as 50 percent, the researchers pointed out in the news release.

They also noted that multi-drug resistant K. pneumoniae -- which is an increasing problem in health-care facilities -- is most dangerous for patients with immune systems weakened by medical procedures or by conditions such as advanced age and illness.

In another case, which was described in a report in the June 21 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC, swift treatment and infection control measures prevented the spread of rare but deadly New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-producing K. pneumoniae that was found in two patients in a Rhode Island hospital in 2011.

Commenting on that report, lead researcher Dr. Leonard Mermel, medical director of the department of epidemiology and infection control at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, said: "These people had the bacteria in their body, but fortunately it was not causing an infection anywhere."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about health care-associated infections.

-- Robert Preidt


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